Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sunglasses

If you wear regular glasses it's impossible to wear sunglasses. Which is too bad because sunglasses are pretty cool.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Western Utah

Western Utah is vast. I guess eastern Utah is too, but I'm not here to talk about eastern Utah. Legend has it that Galileo once said "Boy-Howdy, western Utah is neat!" And he's right. It is neat. Well stated Mr. 'Lileo.

Here's what makes Western Utah so great-neat.

Mines! All sorts of 'em! And they are all still open to invite the fool-hearty inside to see their mine-rich glory! So in I went. Wanna know what it looked like inside the mine?


To be honest, this particular tunnel turned out to not be a mine at all. More of a big storm drain. But what a storm drain! Also it smelled bad.


Anyway, I was wandering around looking for whatever came my way and I found some sort of crazy building. It was unlike most of the other buildings that you see during the day. More.... fallen down than most buildings. Also it seems to have one of these things....

What was this, you ask? The wall of a mighty palace? A landing pod for alien folks? Another storm drain? We may never know. Actually, I looked it up and it turns out it was a smokestack. A smokestack that once belched mighty industry all over western Utah.

It was part of a refinery that was built in the 1900's but then in 1930 it got abandoned like me at prom. Maybe that's why I felt such a connection to this place. Or maybe it was because I stepped on a nail. Either way it felt haunted. In fact, this is the only picture I could find of the place on the internet.

I can honestly say that is about 8 more ghosts than I ever saw out there. But ghosts are tricky little devils, and this place offered a lot of places to hide. Also I think ghosts can turn invisible, or at least run really fast. I dunno. I'm no ghostologist.







I'm assuming that last one was some sort of ghost McDonalds. Anyway, depending on how interesting you find this stuff those are either pictures of a forgotten past, filled with mystery and wonder! Or maybe they are pictures of concrete blocks scattered around a field that may or may not be haunted by 8 ghosts. Either way, let's agree that stepping on nails sucks.


That's me with a gross beard. Note the lack of ghosts in that picture. I have to conclude that ghosts hate gross beards and that's why they left me alone.


A little further down the road I found this.....
I got out and explored it for a little while, but then someone yelled at me so I ran off. People in Western Utah are highly protective of their crappy-crap shacks. A little further down the road was one of these...

I don't know if ghosts have a red-neck culture, but if they do I bet they meet there.


Another thing western Utah has plenty of is stairways that don't seem to go anywhere.
It would appear that at one time half the state was populated by ambitous young stair-makers looking to make a name for themselves. Sadly, they forgot that stairs are only useful if they lead somewhere that people want to go. That's a lesson for us all.

Right next to the stairs was this house. It had a really recent address plate (598!) attached next to the front door, so I guess someone still cares that it's there. Maybe it gets a lot of mail.

I guess you don't have to keep up appearances out there cus land values are pretty much as low as they are going to get. Plus it's not hard to look impressive when your neighbor's house is just a set of concrete steps leading off into space. I looked inside that broken window on the left and saw this....


Hey mysterious house owner! You should budget a little more money on roof maintenance and less on fire extinguishers!
This poor sucker also blew all his money on fire extinguishers, and look where it got him!Anyway, someone else started yelling at me again, so I picked up my hobo stick and headed for home.

And thus ended my western Utah adventure. Ooooo, wait, there was also this!

That's a real mine. And that big building next to it is some sort of real mine building. I just thought that I should put a picture of a mine in this post. This mine used to produce silver, gold, copper and lead. Now it produces bats. And probably wolfmen. Wolfmen like caves, don't they? I dunno.





Friday, March 27, 2009

RARE FOOTAGE

Have you ever wondered what your favorite movie would look like if it involved a lot more snow and people cutting each other with ski poles? It may look a lot like this....


video

I mean, that's practially Star Wars with more bananas. And the plot twists! Move over Shyamalan!

This guy http://jrbutterfield.blogspot.com/ and I made this many years ago. A time when you didn't need high budget car crashes and hobbits to make a good movie. All you needed was a high school teacher who didn't care if you came to class or not.

Monkey lost....AND FOUND

A lot of people find things outside. The Pioneers found Utah, Columbus found the not-indies, lots of people have found ticks, and so on. In fact, look at this startling graph.

So it's not exciting to find things outside. This is hardly news. But what if someone were to find something OUTSIDE that is usually found INSIDE? Well, now that would be something. That very thing happened just the other day while I was outside. What did I find? What example of insideia did I encounter? Behold!


It's a filthy little monkey playing a cello. Why someone would have ever had this thing inside in the first place is beyond me, but I'm not here to figure people out. All I know is that this thing used to be inside, but was most certainly found outside.

And so, in closing, aren't we all like that little cello-playing monkey in some way or another? Maybe we are filthy, or maybe we are missing the stick part of the cello. Maybe our feet got snapped off when a farmer plowed his field. Makes you think.

Nah, it doesn't.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Secret Weapons!!


Bored.

TRILOBITES!!

Alright, I've got to do my job today so I'm going to make this one short. It's about Trilobites. I think they are cool. If you don't, don't feel bad. They all died a long time ago and no longer care what we think.


The Cambrian was a funny time. California was just a twinkle in Mother Nature’s eye, and Nevada was little more than a soggy plain of ocean-goo. The same could be said for much of Utah. Instead of jagged mountains and determined pioneers, Utah was covered in a warm, shallow ocean and indifferent sponges. Professional people say that Utah was at or near the equator during this time as the super-continent Pangaea slapped itself together. How these professional people know this, I can’t say. Perhaps they found a fossilized spring break tee-shirt, or a greasy old DVD of sponges gone wild. Utah marked the western shoreline of Pangaea for a time, before finally sinking below the waves some 525 million years ago as the seas advanced eastwards.


Now, things started out simple enough. Sponges were the tough-guys of the land, spending the majority of their time shoplifting from the locals and then leaning on them for “protection money”. For millions of years the lesser advanced blobs of sea-goo were at the whim of the sponges. These were dark times indeed. Then, without warning, a new tough-guy showed up….


Trilobites. The three-lobed arthropod of fury. These little guys could skeletonize a cow in less than a minute, and even the sponges were helpless to do anything other than soak up to their weight in water. At first, there was just one type of Trilobite, a friendly little guy named the Olenellid trilobite. These guys seemed to be content to be themselves for millions of years until, very suddenly, they became 17,000 different types, all with equally fascinating names, such as Bolaspidella Contracta, Asaphiscus Kingi, and Thomas.


The great thing about Utah is that a large number of these little guys lived in here when the oceans were at the right depth and temperature. You head out to the stimulating city of Delta Utah and the drive a few miles more and there you are, right in the middle of the parched desert that was once a trilobite-ridden ocean.






Sadly, as is the case for us all, Trilobites were doomed the minute they showed up on the scene. Utah continued to sink deeper and deeper below the ocean, like a Twinkie soaking in a pool of milk. Soon the oceans became too deep for our friends the Trilobites, and they disappeared from Utah. This was just the beginning of their troubles. Pangea was giving up the ghost and was becoming several different countries, like France, Ireland and probably others. Some believe that this is somehow connected to a drop in earthy temperatures which not only killed the trilobites, but 98% of all other life on earth. Oddly enough, it is the sponge that comes through like a champ, having been forced to live a life of quiet spongy dignity while the trilobites were off snorting coke and ignoring youth liquor laws. Makes you think.

So yes, 220 million years ago the Trilobites disappeared forever. Some think that the entire planet became encased in ice, not unlike the Planet Hoth. Others believe that sharks, which had recently shown up, simply ate everything else. A comet impact site known as Hudson Bay is also conveniently dated at about the same time as when the Trilobites made their last gasp. I suspect that the comet was carrying sharks, which arrived on earth at the behest of the sponges, who according to my personal research hated the trilobites. All we have now are cold, occasionally creepy rock-based trilobites who no longer feel pain, and await the opportunity to exact their revenge on the sponges.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

FLUORITE!!

Tuesday eh? You are probably feeling a little down. The weekend is over and now it’s back to work. Also, your boss hates you and you are probably going to lose your job on Thursday. But not all lost. You know what’s fun to do to on Tuesday? Learning about more geology. Heck, that’s fun to do ANY day, but let’s do it today because come Thursday you probably won’t be able afford the internet. The next crappy high-school marching band in our parade of mineral wonders belongs to a colorful little fella named Fluorite.




I’ve got to be honest, I have very little “factual” information concerning Fluorite. You can’t tell, but spellchecker has to keep spelling it right for me. With that in mind, let’s get ready to learn. As usual, let’s make a list of what we DO know.

1) Fluorite is hard to spell. You want to spell it Florite, but there’s a “u” in it that keeps messing me up.
2) The piece I have is purplish.
3) It’s light. Much lighter than that jerk Magnetite.
4) Ummmm….I can see through it. Kinda.
5) I’m guessing that it contains the element Fluorine cus of the name. Either that or it contains the Flu virus, which I’m hoping is not the case.
6) See #2.

There. That’s all I know off the top of my head. It’s a pretty good list. Let’s look at it in action….




That’s all well and good, but let’s see how it reacts under pressure:















Ah, here we see the truth. Fluorite is a cowardly rock, just sitting there as the smaller toys got squished by the bigger and dustier toy. So sad. Makes you think.

Let’s move on. Fluorite stems from the Latin word “fluere”, which apparently means “to flow”. It turns out that Fluorite melts pretty easy, and the early Latinians could only distinguish it from other shiny, light purple rocks by heating them all up and seeing which one melted first. I imagine this destroyed the Fluorite, but science is like that sometimes. I also don’t know what melted Fluorite looks like. Gooey, probably.

That crazy mineral book says that Fluorite should look like this....




But the piece I have looks like this….



So I’m assuming that this book is stupid-wrong.

Let’s talk money. What can we use this wonderful rock for? Say you wake up tomorrow morning and find that your great aunt has died and left you 123 pounds of Fluorite in her will. How excited should you be? The answer is you shouldn’t be very excited at all. Looks like all they really use Fluorite for is to make hydrofluoric acid, which is useful if you are making some sort of acid monster but significantly less useful (and dangerous) to the majority of regular people. English folks used to collect the stuff cus it was pretty, but it breaks too easily to make jewelry out of. Plus, again, there seems to be a hydrofluoric acid danger.

INTERESTING FLUORITE FACT #1 (of 1)

You know the word “Fluorescent?” It comes from this very mineral! Apparently, in addition to making death-acid, Fluorite can glow under particular conditions (sometimes). Also sometimes it doesn’t. Geology is the biker-gang of the sciences. It doesn’t need your rules.

END INTERSTING FLUORITE FACT #1

I’m going to step aside here for a second and explain an odd little scale the Geology uses. It’s called the Moh’s Hardness Scale, and it’s used to measure how hard a mineral is. You have to try to scratch the mineral with a bunch of odd things, and a hardness is assigned to the mineral based on the softest thing that successfully scratches the mineral in question. For future reference, here it is in all of its glory….

MOHS FASCINATING HARDNESS SCALE THAT IS CONFUSING

1 means you can scratch the mineral with your fingernail.

2 means you can scratch the mineral with your fingernail, but it’s a little harder. (fingernails have a hardness of 2.2! Save that little factoid for a party where you need to sound smart and get the ladies).

3 means you can scratch the mineral with a penny. Good to know.

4 means you can scratch the mineral with a knife. Unless that knife is made out of pennies.

5 means you can scratch the mineral with a knife again, but its harder to do.

6 means you can’t scratch the mineral with a knife.

7 means that you can scratch glass with the mineral. So here we seem to have moved on from finding out what we can use to scratch the mineral to finding out what the mineral can scratch. Awesome!

8 means you can scratch glass with the mineral again, but it’s easier than with a 7. Somehow.

9 means you can use this mineral to cut through glass. Useful if you are planning to rob a museum.

10 means you can use this mineral to cut glass again. But apparently it’s easier than a 7, 8, or 9.

END OF MOHS FASCINATING HARDNESS SCALE THAT IS CONFUSING

As you can see, this scale is pretty relative. Also, again, it’s important to remember that there are variations in every mineral that make it harder or softer than it aught to be. So sometimes this list is true, and sometimes it isn’t. What are you gonna do about it? Nothing, that’s what. You can actually fit most things on this scale, not just minerals. I imagine that blimps are probably somewhere around a 3.5, as I’ve never heard of a blimp crashing due to being struck with a penny. Shoplifting is probably somewhere around 6. A child’s laughter is likely around 1. And so on.

So where does Fluorite (usually) fall on that list? Proceed below…..

4!

That’s right, Fluorite is a 4, meaning that it isn’t scared of pennies, but like most of us it fears knives. Let’s test it out…



It’s true! The Fluorite has defeated Honest Abe.



Looks like Old Moh’s magical scale is safe for now. I would try out a knife, but I would probably cut myself. So we are going to have to just believe that part.

Chemically-speaking, Fluorite is made up of 51.3% Calcium and 48.7% Fluorine. These two elements meet up, go on a few dates, things move too fast, and wham, Fluorite is born.



By now you are all probably eager to get out there and find your own Fluorite. But how do you obtain your own sample of this sometimes green, purple, white, clear, yellow, rose, blue or brown rock? Here’s my secret…









I read a book once that said that Fluorite is all over the place, but I’ve never seen any. I had to buy my piece. Do I regret it? Nah, it was pretty cheap.

Well, that’s 3 pages of somewhat true and boring information concerning Fluorite.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Secret Weapons Galore!


It is a little know fact that the battle between the Merrimac and Monitor was actually nothing more than a fight between two stranded-at-sea kittens, both of whom were chasing a leaf floating on the water. Also one kitten was in color because I can't figure out paint.